I am worried about Kaalu and not for the first time. She was born in the park adjacent to my flat. One of the nine puppies, scrawniest and a late learner, slow in everything – from crawling to fending for her own rights! But she was the only one who survived, became notorious for her mischief and grew into an imp of a mongrel.  Her excessive fondness for my pet, Mr. Snow Boot, has always been a continuous source of stress to me.

This October, she stepped into adolescence – one year old. But her body is not well developed. She still survives on milk. She has not attained “mental maturity” as the vets would say. She is still very much a child and she is pregnant!

I used to find her lethargically prostrated in the middle of the lane. Even on whistling and calling out her name, she would not respond and just watch me listlessly with a tinge of sadness swimming in those dark eyes! The progressively bulging belly spilled the beans.

She could guess that there was something wrong with her but knew not what.

When I come back home, in the evenings, from work, she sprints up, hugs me with her forelimbs and wails mournfully. Words are useless. Who requires the alphabets to fathom her plaintive cries? There is universality in womanhood, a kinship, a bonding, transcending species and genera which automatically lends speech to her undecipherable language, her clarion call.

I know she is hungry, always hungry, very, very hungry!

I run my hand across her back, her protruding belly, the sheen of her coat, now lusterless with dirt, mud and waste. I box her ears playfully. Her skin shows here and there – translucent pink epidermis in between jet black bush of fir. She has lost clumps of hair and urgently needs veterinary care. Nutrients, vitamins, minerals and above all food, sumptuous, luscious diet!


Maa is furious with me! The milk pan is half empty! Just two loaves sulk in the Bread Basket! She gives me an accusatory look. What do I do maa? Kaalu reminds me of all those innumerable “second sex” of this hapless country, who willingly or unwillingly,  give in to the whims and fancies of hungry eyes and prodding hands in the dark silhouettes of nights or even during sunny morns and sultry noons. And thereafter carry the indelible  imprints in their wombs – sometimes a nightmare, sometimes a shattered dream, infrequently a rosy remembrance of a soft dawn or a demure dusk but that is so rare, almost an oddity!!!

My sister protests! Kaalu is a threat to her sterile threshold.  I keep silent. Will I be able to make her understand that when I caress Kaalu I reach out to millions like her, in human garb, languishing in the remotest of remote corners of this land – villages, districts, towns, cities, backwaters and even metros too! Mutely counting days while valiantly wading through thousand chores, traveling in overcrowded transports, bringing work load back home and sometimes making both ends meet, stretching themselves beyond the realms of permissible or legitimate ease.

Perhaps she will empathize, if once she hears placing her ears in the air. The breeze will carry wisps of whispered prayers. But I have never shared my thoughts with her. So, she continues to grumble and I make it a point to feed the overgrown pup, twice a day… at least.


But this morning was a surprise.  I woke a little late and found my mother in the kitchen warming the milk and mashing the bread. “For whom?” I ask. “For your daughter,” she says, suppressing a smile. “Your sister brought in the bread and yesterday’s left over milk.” I was amazed. “But maa…..”I hesitated. She was brusque, “Before you go in for your bath, give her this. She is waiting outside.” She looked up.

The sun rays were streaming in from the open kitchen window. Maa stood there with her back towards the light. But did I see a glisten in her eyes? A twinkle and a flash of a smile lining the lashes! I have never told them in so many words. But I know they know, my mother and my sister, because there is a silver stream of oneness coursing through these malleable souls; a subcutaneous bond of universal empathy born out of similarity of fate? Perhaps a pathological familiarity which may at times border on contempt,  at times other, on a more fraternal fellowship, withstanding the test of time, navigating through ages of rough weather and  invincible chains, sometimes a deluge and at times a restraint, a refrain, the sparkling ribbon meanders through zillions of tumultuous currents restlessly simmering in the underbelly of apparently pacific, non-challant  waves, cutting across species, genera and    numerous other  taxonomical researches and gains. It does not take time to dawn. The tale of repression and resilience is epoch long!


27 responses »

  1. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Haa Sunita, that is exactly what I want ! You should follow me around and keep on giving me the boost which I need always. As I have often said and I repeat again you are the exalting end of all my hesitant beginning.

    I’d be happier still if you choose to contribute your write to adorn this space. A thank you will be inappropriate as well as inadequate in so far as your contribution to my creative upliftment is concerned. Still thanks a million times!!!

  2. Sunita Rajiv says:

    I have become your Kaalu, sniffing your scent all the way to any page on the net
    What began as a plain narration and a char coal sketch, has taken its third dimension slowly towards the end.
    The last para has added the needed shades , strokes and outlines to the painting that transcends the barrier of the skin and peeps into the soul beneath.It gives you the G,C. flavour that people like me are addicted to.

  3. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Hi Irene! Thanks for reading and appreciating. I am actually overwhelmed at the response! Such welcome! Brings tears to my eyes!!Thanks once more Irene and all of you who found time to read my write and appreciate.

  4. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Thank you Deepika for reading and appreciating!

  5. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Love you Barnali for being here. Yes, pets are so precious, ain’t they?

  6. Irene says:

    Nice… emotive…

  7. deepika says:

    story woven with empathy. “But I know…………..there is a silver stream ……….. these malleable souls.”Really loved these lines.

  8. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Vimalaji, I too love dogs and being the godmother of most of the stray dogs in my block, I like to think that I understand them well. So we have a common thread of love and empathy for animals between us. Thanks for reading and appreciating. My personal blog is full of such anecdotes on animals. In case you are interested you are always welcome to visit & browse.

  9. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Thank you very much Vimala Ma’am for the note of appreciation and confirming me as a friend on facebook!

  10. vimala madon says:

    I love dogs, so any writing about dogs gets my attention. You described the body language displayed thru their eyes and body well Geetashree.

  11. Barnali says:

    Loved the way you have narrated the entire story. Reminded me of the time a pet of mine was pregnant for the first time, and we were more concerned than her 🙂

  12. vimala ramu says:

    A touching story of a dumb creature from a sensitive human being.

  13. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Dear Indrani, thanks for reading. I am sure the mulling over it will give birth to something beautiful!

  14. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Lovita, I love you for being such a sweetheart. Thanks for the note of appreciation!

  15. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    It was heartfelt. That is why it has touched all hearts…Thanks for reading.

  16. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Dear Shernaaz, Thanks. I followed you. So, thanks again for showing the way….

  17. lovita j r morang says:

    geeta writes her guts out. a beautiful writer
    FEMME FATALE: Kaalu- the Vagabond…is heart wrenching…

  18. Indrani Talukdar says:

    A very first person warm account that makes you sit up and think. Marvellous.

  19. Shernaz says:

    Very well woven tale of empathy with an undercurrent of feminism if I may say so. Geetashree, I know you are going to keep enriching this space with the rest of the writers and delighting all readers.

  20. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Thank you Beyniaz!!

  21. Beyniaz says:

    Lovely words and nice blog, Geetashree. Look forward to reading many more blogs written by you!

  22. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Thank you, Shail. That is very encouraging and welcoming.

  23. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Thank you Sneha. Again an example of the universal “oneness”.

  24. Geetashree Chatterjee says:

    Yes, Sonal, I agree with you. It is this universal accord which should also be our strength and empowerment.

  25. Dear Geetashree, you have very nicely weaved the story of the dog with that of women in India and the world over. Not very easy to do. Keep writing…

  26. Sneha says:

    Your tale strikes a chord with me, Geetashree.

  27. Sonal Shree says:

    We humans, especially females, are blessed in that we can empathize well with others. And as you say, ‘universal empathy born out of similarity of fate’, I feel we are luckier in the sense we have a voice which can be heard.

    With empowerment, we are increasingly getting this right.

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